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Topic: Household Food Security

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What do we really know about the number and distribution of farms and family farms in the world?

The agricultural economics literature provides various estimates of the number of farms and small  farms in the world. This paper is an effort to provide a more complete and up to date as well as  carefully documented estimate of the total number of farms in the world, as well as by region and  level of income.

It uses data from numerous rounds of the World Census of Agriculture, the only  dataset available which allows the user to gain a complete picture of the total number of farms  globally and at the country level. The paper provides estimates of the number of family farms, the  number of farms by size as well as the distribution of farmland by farm size.

These estimates find that:  there are at least 570 million farms worldwide, of which more than 500 million can be considered  family farms. Most of the world’s farms are very small, with more than 475 million farms being less  than 2 hectares in size. Although the vast majority of the world’s farms are smaller than 2 hectares,  they operate only a small share of the world’s farmland. Farmland distribution would seem quite  unequal at the global level, but it is less so in low- and lower-middle-income countries as well as in  some regional groups.

These estimates have serious limitations and the collection of more up-to-date  agricultural census data, including data on farmland distribution is essential to our having a more representative picture of the number of farms, the number of family farms and farm size as well as farmland distribution worldwide. 

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Family Poultry Development - Issues, opportunities and constraints.

Family poultry encompasses the wide variety of small-scale poultry production systems found in rural, urban and peri-urban areas of developing countries. One can distinguish four broad categories of family poultry production systems: small extensive scavenging, extensive scavenging, semi-intensive and small-scale intensive. Empirical and circumstantial evidence from many developing countries shows that poultry development interventions can bring significant benefits to households, in terms of contributions to food security, women’s empowerment and poverty reduction. During three electronic conferences and preparation of the “Decision Tools for Family Poultry Development” several good practices and lessons learned for a “roadmap towards a more sustainable family poultry development” were recognized as essential tools for designing more effective projects. It is crucial to assess the feasibility and economic viability of family poultry interventions in each specific operating environment, and to develop an appropriate and tailored response in order to achieve sustainability. Lessons learned show that a “one-size-fits-all” response is not successful. Two different approaches towards family poultry development emerged from the electronic conference discussions: a conservative approach and a progressive approach. The former is used to preserve existing practices; the latter is used to introduce new practices. The progressive approach is often adopted by development agencies, as they assume that it leads to more efficient and productive systems. Economic outcome and sustainability of family poultry production should be given consideration when recommending more intensive production systems. The conservative approach seems more appropriate for remote village conditions, where the introduction of new technologies is challenging and poultry production is subject to many constraints. Development interventions should respond to the specific needs of the target group and, therefore, may involve single or multiple stages. Nevertheless, interventions focused on a single component of the production system (e.g. feeding, housing, health or breeding) often yield little improvement in family poultry production, as other constraints may arise and hamper productivity. In promoting the introduction of new technologies, it is crucial to carry out “hands-on/learningby- doing” training and ensure follow-up by technical agents. The formation of producer groups to deliver support services to poor farmers, such as training for capacity-building, supply of inputs and assistance for marketing, is a key issue for development. To achieve success and sustainability, however, the formation of producer groups needs to be combined with a value chain approach. Recommendations for specific genetic resources also need to be location specific. A single type of bird may not be suitable for all conditions. Suitability is dependent on a variety of factors, such as household resources (including time and commitment) and the underlying objective of poultry rearing (to meet household needs or to access markets and earn a sustained livelihood). The most appropriate genetic resources for scavenge-based systems are local breeds with improved productivity, adaptability and disease resistance. This also favours the conservation of indigenous breeds; its self-propagation capability ensures sustainability and very low dependence on external agencies/persons. Breeds that have low input costs with improved productivity are recommended for semi-intensive systems. These may be crosses of local with exotic breeds or crosses of two exotic breeds/lines designed to contribute improved productivity in line with increased investment. This system requires supplementary feeding and proper housing of improved birds, and use of crossbred chickens requires a supply system that produces the crosses. Government support may be required for the development of improved genetic resources that are appropriate to the specific conditions of scavenging poultry and for those used in semi-intensive production systems. Assessing the availability of locally available/produced feed resources is important for all four family poultry production systems. The utilization of new and existing local feed resources through different feeding techniques can assist in mitigating the potential impacts of climate change. For scavenging systems assessment of the scavengeable feed resource and its efficient use is crucial. Family poultry farmers using small extensive scavenging and extensive scavenging systems should be able to use on-farm mixtures as supplements to scavenging. Supplementation with locally available feedstuffs or commercial feed as a supplement to scavenging can be recommended for the semi-intensive system if the market prices of the birds or eggs ensure profitability. Poultry in small-scale intensive systems require ad libitum feeding with balanced commercial feed. The continuing education of family poultry farmers regarding types and quality of commercial feeds should raise awareness among them of their need for training on collecting (sourcing), mixing (formulating and compounding) and feeding (supplying, storage and offering) of commercial feed, as well as locally available (home-grown/home-mixed) feed. Newcastle Disease is identified as the major health constraint to family poultry production in developing countries. However, once controlled other constraints have to be addressed, such as other diseases (mainly fowl pox, fowl cholera and duck plague) and shortage of feed resources. The availability of quality vaccines and well-trained vaccinators is required to implement efficient vaccination programmes. Ensuring the involvement of women as vaccinators and advisors contributes to both effective poultry disease control programmes and the improved status of women in their households and their communities. Effective vaccination programmes should be combined with appropriate biosecurity measures and practices to strengthen the immune systems of birds (e.g. good nutrition and control of mycotoxins on grains). Appropriate family poultry policies are essential for family poultry development to ensure that the socio-economically disadvantaged are able to make use of these potent tools to improve livelihoods and the position of women. To achieve these goals policy-makers need to be made aware of the real contributions that family poultry can make, so as to ensure their active support. Family poultry development programmes need support from different sectors and careful designing to achieve a favourable environment for future sustainability. 

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A Vegetable Garden for All

A practical guide for setting up family gardens for the production of nutritious, safe food crops, that would contribute to the diets of populations affected by food insecurity

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Post-green revolution food systems and the triple burden of malnutrition

Developing country food systems have changed dramatically since the Green Revolution period. At the same time, malnutrition still represents a challenge and is now understood to encompass the three simultaneous dimensions of undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies, and over-nutrition manifest in overweight and obesity. These changes in food systems and in the understanding of the global malnutrition challenge necessitate fresh thinking about food systems-based strategies to reduce malnutrition. This paper introduces a special section that offers such new perspectives. We discuss trends with respect to indicators of the triple burden of malnutrition to understand the extent of global malnutrition challenges and then relate those to food systems transformation in developing countries.

Authors:

  • Miguel I. Gómez a,
  • Christopher B. Barrett a, b,
  • Terri Raney c,
  • Per Pinstrup-Andersen a, d,
  • Janice Meerman e,
  • André Croppenstedt c,
  • Brian Carisma c,
  • Brian Thompson e

a Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7801, USA

b Department of Economics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7801, USA

c Agricultural Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy

d Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7801, USA

e Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy